Losing is not as bad when you don't know what you've lost
Tsunade took a deep breath and regretted immediately when the smell of garbage hit her like a flood of kunais. She crouched behind the garbage collector unit, and tried to ignore the stench of waste. Her shuriken in her hand, she balanced on the balls of her feet and kept her eyes locked on the mouth of the alley. She knew that Orochimaru was on the roof and was a little embarrassed when she realised how relieved she was at that thought.
"He's taking too long." Tsunade hissed into her talk piece and gritted her teeth when she heard Orochimaru's soft laughter.
"You know how he is. Be patient, he'll be here soon."
Tsunade gritted her teeth. Men! They were all alike, and even if they were always fighting against each other, they would band together against a common foe, namely, her.
(He is a quiet child, so quiet that many think that he isn't able to talk. "He's all alone," everyone says. "His parents were killed on a mission, poor child." He never mixes with the other children of the academy, and he goes home alone to a quiet flat and cooks a dinner of vegetables and meat, just the way his mother used to do.)
Orochimaru chuckled softly as Tsunade's curses came through the ear piece. It was her way, he knew, and so he didn't place too much importance on it. His grip on his katana was steady and he kept his attention on the mouth of the alley, ready to move as soon as the target appeared. He couldn't blame Tsunade, Jiraiya was supposed to be here ages ago. Trust the idiot to screw things up.
"You're muttering to yourself about Jiraiya again." Tsunade sounded amused now.
Orochimaru hissed; he hated it when he did that, especially when Tsunade caught him at it. It meant that he wasn't paying attention, and in his line of work, that was not something that you wanted to be caught doing. Orochimaru shifted into a slightly more comfortable position, ignoring the heat that was rising around him. He'd leave the screwing up to Jiraiya, who did it with such flare.
(Her first memory of Sarutobi-sensei is of tobacco. No one in her family smokes, but she doesn't find the smell offensive. It seems Sarutobi-sensei's clothes will always carry a faint whiff of tobacco. Later, the scent becomes a comfort, and she clings to it amidst the wash of blood that never seems to go away.)
Jiraiya was having the time of his life, as he let his hand wonder about and was awarded with a light slap on his shoulder and a giggle. This sort of mission was the best. He wasn't exactly drunk, but a little sake never hurt anyone. Besides, he had to make his act seem real, or else how was he to execute his part of the mission? It was about time they got higher ranked (and more glamorous) missions; for once, Sarutobi-sensei wasn't around to cramp his style. After all, they've been Chuunin for almost a year.
"You're so handsome, sweetheart. Why don't we go to my place?"
Jiraiya had no idea how close he came to death. Ninjas, as a general rule, unless they were lying in the hospital bed, with the various holes in their bodies closed by jutsu or plain old bandage, do not think about how close to death they were. It would distract them from their mission; from what they had to do.
(His is a typical story of any ninja village. His parents are dead; his clan eliminated. The war destroys, but ninjas are a resilient lot. If it isn't war, it's missions, or enemies or politics. Death surrounds them, and Death walks with them. He learns at a young age that people are not to be trusted. He wants to live forever.)
It was over before they realised it. They stood panting over the bodies of their targets, their weapons dripping with blood. Orochimaru was the first to move; sheathing his katana after wiping the blood off it, he searched the fallen figures. Tsunade took a deep breath, her body shuddering with the effort, and started to go through the corpses nearest to her. Jiraiya, not to be outdone, stepped right in the middle of everything.
They found what they were looking for, a small jade figure tucked into a hidden pocket of the lady who was with Jiraiya. Orochimaru held out a hand for Tsunade, who ignored it. Wincing slightly, she placed her hand in the pool of blood and pushed herself up. Jiraiya, having found the figurine, handed it over to Orochimaru, who was named leader of the mission, despite protests from Jiraiya.
"We have to leave now, we're out of time."
"That's because Jiraiya took so long just now!"
"Hey! I was only doing my job."
"As if, pervert."
"It's almost dark. Tsunade, you brought the potion?"
Jiraiya made a face at Orochimaru.
"I'll go ahead to see if the coast is clear. Jiraiya, you stay to guard Tsunade's back. The both of you are to retreat the moment the bodies are disposed of."
"Sure, leave us to do the dirty work." Jiraiya muttered as he helped Tsunade arrange the bodies when Orochimaru disappeared.
Tsunade rolled her eyes at Jiraiya. There must not be any signs that anything had transpired here. Tsunade pulled from her vest the potion that would dissolve the bodies and ignored the way that Jiraiya carefully pull the clothes of the girl closed. This was their job and their lives. They did what they had to.
It was what they were trained for, after all.
When the bodies were only a puddle on the dirty floor, Tsunade and Jiraiya met up with Orochimaru. The night was clear, the moon hung high in the sky, bright and round. None of them noticed it as they made their way home.
You won't miss it either.